The 20 drivers already guaranteed starting spots in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway by virtue of winning races in 2011 or so far in 2012 or by winning the All-Star Race within the last 10 years made qualifying runs on Friday to set the starting grid.
Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was the last car out, and Busch claimed the pole with a qualifying time of 119.112 seconds, knocking Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet from the top of the scoring pylon.
“Going out last always helps,” Busch said.
The All-Star qualifying session didn’t follow normal NASCAR qualifying procedure. Instead, each driver made a total of three laps, coming down pit road on lap two for a four-tire pit stop. The total time of the three laps and pit stop accounted for each driver’s qualifying time.
“It’s just a whole team effort,” Busch said. That’s what it boils down to.”
Newman will start the Sprint All-Star Race next to Busch on the front row after he turned in a qualifying time of 120.168 seconds. Denny Hamlin will start third, Greg Biffle fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.
Twenty-four drivers not already in the Sprint All-Star Race will compete in the Sprint Showdown on Saturday evening, prior to the All-Star Race, for the the final three spots on the All-Star starting grid. The top-two drivers in the Sprint Showdown and the winner of a fan vote on NASCAR.com will claim starting spots 21 through 23rd for the All-Star Race.
Drivers competing in the Sprint Showdown also qualified on Friday, following the traditional two-lap, fastest lap counts qualifying procedure.
A.J. Allmendinger claimed the Showdown pole with a fastest lap time of 28.057 seconds. Martin Truex Jr. claimed the other front row starting spot for the Sprint Showdown, qualifying second with a lap time of 28.265 seconds.
“It was a good lap,” Allmendinger said of his qualifying run. “The car was stuck to the race track.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., expected to at least get the fan vote into the All-Star Race, qualified third for the Showdown. Jeff Burton was fourth in qualifying and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five.
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